Seven years after the French company closed in Rwanda, Emmanuel Macron opened a new Francophone Cultural Center in Kigali on May 27, 2021. French, the language of the former Belgian immigrant and administration, has largely lost its influence since the Rwandan Patriotic Front came to power in 1994. Controversy over France’s involvement in the Tutsi genocide, which killed at least 800,000 people, caused intense tension between Paris and Kigali, whose diplomatic relations were severed between November 2006 and November 2009. Most of the Tutsi refugees who returned from Uganda competed with English, the language spoken by them – English speakers – to form a new administration.
President Paul Kagame, educated in Uganda (and partly trained in the United States), introduced English as the third official language in the 2003 Constitution along with Kinyarwanda and French. This applies to English-speaking African countries, especially Uganda, Kenya and South Africa …
French, formerly the language of public education, was replaced by English as a compulsory language of instruction in school in 2008, when relations between Paris and Kigali were at an all-time low. Citing the desire and practicality to train young people in a language that is considered essential to the economic development of the French-speaking country at the crossroads of Africa, Rwandan authorities have always rejected any political or ideological desire to push the French language into the background. And English speaking.
“National Radio no longer reads news in French. On national television, French news is broadcast after 10 pm while people are already asleep.”Etienne Gatanazi, former presenter of Rwandan Television
In 2018, 724,000 of Rwanda’s 12.5 million people, or 6% of the population, spoke French, according to La Francophonie’s International Organization (OIF). French is the most widely spoken foreign language in the country. This low percentage is explained by the fact that Kinyarwanda is the national language spoken by almost all the people of Rwanda, so unlike many other African countries where many indigenous languages coexist, there is no need for a foreign language to understand each other. It is the everyday language of the country and the historical and cultural vector.
Relations between Paris and Kigali have recently been warmed by the release of two reports that France bears great responsibility – but not complicity – in the 1994 genocide, which was appeased by the release of a French and a Rwandan report.
New “French-Speaking Cultural Center” Opened by Emmanuel Macron in the Rwandan capital “Aims to promote not only French culture, but all resources of francophony, especially artists from the region.”, According to the French president.
This warming of relations between France and Rwanda began a few years ago through an intermediary of Francophony, since OIF 2018 was headed by former Rwandan Foreign Minister Luis Mushikiwapo.
“Beeraholic. Friend of animals everywhere. Evil web scholar. Zombie maven.”